The Meat Puppets are legends - in the sense that bazillions of people actually love them just for being themselves and doing whatever suits their skewed tastes, prods their warped senses of humor and echoes their unique experience as blotter-addled, southwestern desperados with guitars, on a vision quest beyond the punk rock, beyond where the spirits of CSN&Y, Black Flag and the Louvin Brothers crouch together by firelight beneath the Mesa...
Where do Meat Puppets go when they die? They don't go to heaven where the angels fly, but rather take 11 years for a resurrection, then regroup and pick up where they left off. Granted, this reunion of the twisted, high-desert trio is devoid of original drummer Derrick Bostrom, yet it does include what Kurt Cobain once referred to as "the Brothers Meat": Curt and Cris Kirkwood and their hippified fusion of punk, country, metal, and psychedelia. There are no surprises from songwriter Curt, whose calming, monotone Neil Young-at-78-rpm voice and frantic lead guitar has kept the Puppets' moniker alive since bassist Cris left to battle drug problems. In time-warp fashion, the band plays as distinctively and playfully as ever, with songs like "Spit," "Island," "Disappear," and "Enemy Love Song"--and the Kirkwoods' still-unique vocal accord--drifting back to Up on the Sun
, vintage 1985. Curt's 15 songs (which clock in at a generous 65 minutes) can get sludgy ("Radio Moth") and brooding ("The Ship") and melancholy ("Tiny Kingdom"), but his astonishing guitar never rests. And with a decade to make up to their mass of cult-following backers, Rise to Your Knees
is the kind of record that might keep these Meat Puppets up for awhile. --Scott Holter